13 Take-aways from 2013: HAPPY NEW YEAR!

NYE Champagne glasses

As the New Year is upon us (be GONE, 2013, don’t let the door hit you in the A**!), I’m reflecting on the lessons I learned, the moments that will be remembered, as well as contemplating what’s to come. I’ve made a list of 13… nothing better than writing it all down to flesh out the perspective… take-aways from this year:

NYE Cartoon B

NYE Lessons learned

1) Expect the unexpected – no matter how well you’ve planned your life out, how perfectly (in your head) the details all fit into one beautiful mosaic, curve balls will be thrown and you must be ready to catch them

2) Be kindER – as a result of The Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, coupled with my reading of R.J. Palacio’s book Wonder, I have a heightened sense of just how much benevolence matters.

3) Believe – in something, a higher power, perhaps, or simply the power of people. I’ve tattooed myself with the word on my wrist to remind me that there is a plan bigger than myself, bigger than what I can see in front of me right now, and I just have to trust it.

4) Be resilient –  changes happen around us all the time: some we easily ebb and flow with, while others are like trying to swim against a powerful tide. In these moments, we must focus on our own goals, do what we need to do with the power we’ve been given, and forge ahead resiliently according to what we know is right.

5) Learn to let go – in life, I’ve come to count on some things, like my family being together — it’s comfortable and it feels right. However, in the grand scheme of parenting, I know I’ve raised my children only to set them free. Many things are like this. Change is uncomfortable, but in order to let the new in, we somehow need to let go of the old (even when we aren’t necessarily ready to). I’m learning. So, in the spirit of being a taker-of-baby-steps, I am finding comfort in the benefits of letting go.

6) Be thankful – as an experiment, I wrote down every day, for 30 days, during one of the most trying periods of my life, something I’m grateful for. And what I learned is that sometimes big goals are overwhelming, so in making strides (small ones) toward something positive, the journey is much less painful.

NYE Memorable Moments

7) Seeing Chicago and my son’s new beginning (his world) through his excited eyes. It amazes me that after all these years (twenty-two), I’m still seeing the firsts through his eyes.

8) In a moment of real connection (and with teens, these are few and far between) my son told me that I’m his best friend. While, as a parent, you tell yourself over and over, “I must be his parent, not his friend,” particularly in getting through the obstacles of this stage. If through all of that hard parenting, he can tell me that I’m his friend (with no strings attached), I have truly succeeded as a parent, in my eyes.

9) Laughing. Simply laughing with my daughter. No matter how hard life gets, I find comfort in the playful moments we share– two girls who love & respect one another, as well as enjoy each other’s company.

10) My sanctuary. The building of it mostly. For years, I’ve waited for some place in this house to be only mine. Putting the words on the wall, and standing back to admire them– such a cathartic experience. I finally, again, have a room of my own.

11) My students words. Two, in particular. First student, “Somehow I just feel a connection with Mrs. Carbone that I haven’t felt with any other teacher. We have a lot in common.” Second student, “I always feel comfortable in Mrs. Carbone’s class. She makes me love learning, and the best part is that I’m learning a lot about myself.” These gems are the reason I love my job.

NYE goals

12) Live in the present. Love it. Cherish it. Recognize it as the chance to do something I’ve never done before and will never do the same again.

13) Follow my dreams, my intuition… ultimately, be truest to myself.

NYE Poster Final copy

And as an added bonus:

NYE blog

30 Days of Thankful

LEGACY: The People Who Leave

The Magic of Teaching: First-Day-Ever Teaching Advice to My New-Teacher Friends

Wonder, R.J. Palacio- So much more than a review, a call to action

SummerGarden Splendor

 NYE Thank you


The Other Place

Every summer it beckons, like a calling. The few summers we didn’t respond didn’t seem like summer at all. I smell the salt water in the air when we arrive, feeling the familiar heat like a tattered, cottony, smooth blanket, each tear marking a memory. Our car wades through the traffic like taking baby steps which makes the anticipation mount. We pass the ferry docks with a bustle of happy people coming and going, then the J.F.K.Memorial park on our left reminding us of the Kennedy presence in this town, next the Hyannis Yacht Club where boats of all kinds align the docks, some fastened to buoys in the water. And finally we arrive to our Cape Cod home, our other place, for we’ve been coming here for 28 years.

Our first trip, before we were even married, was a mistake of sorts wanting only not to vacation in a dump like we had two years before. I picked it out a AAA Travel Guide. It sounded decent enough: new, fully furnished condominiums, 5 levels, 3 bedrooms, 2 & 1/2 baths, living room, dining room, kitchen & den, ocean side or pool side. I just prayed it wasn’t like Sylvia’s. There were four couples renting this first summer. When we arrived, it looked, to us, like we’d stumbled into something that was beyond our means. We circled the stairway to the top where there was a deck with the most splendorous view I’d ever seen. At the bottom of the stairway, looking up, the various balconies peered out with a clear skylight at the top which emitted light throughout, all day.

That first year, we played house. Four couples on the cusp of engagement, the edge of living hard and living purposefully. This vacation brought a little of both.

Now, 28 years later, who would have thought we’d only stray a handful of times, only to return again. This place is a book mark noting all the significant chapters in our lives. From before marriage, to learning to vacation with in-laws; from our first child’s first vacation to the three of our children building sand castles together as young adults; from marital highs when we were inseparable to marital lows when we contemplated the fate of our union; from sharing our time with relatives, healthy and vivacious, to returning with out them — only present in our memories.

I could write a book of the summers spent here at our Other Place– the nuances which make each year distinct to itself. While we are never conscious of the moments that make the memories while we are in them, they are the highlights we return to in our minds once we’re home and the rhythms of life return, making our happy place seem like a dream. Perhaps, I will write them down one day to make sense of them– to realize how the sum of the years all fit together into one purpose.

After toting all of the necessities from home (those that have become fewer and fewer over the years), situating everything in it’s familiar spot, the moment vacation begins is when I open the slider to the back porch, taking in the beauty of the view: a grassy ledge, 4 stone stairs leading down the crystals of sand, hot on my tender feet, a sprawling beach that loops around the bay, ice blue water that when the sun hits looks like a sheen of diamonds, boats rocking in the current like cradles, all under a vast blue sky where the sun’s arms open up, welcoming.